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Ok, so as landlords we know we are generally hated. We know the powers that be have got it in for us (3%, s24 etc etc), but they go beyond this to morally utterly wrong and reprehensible and I for one am sick of it.
To set the scene:-
I rent to a family (parents and 2 children who are now both over 18 but unemployed and at home). I have rented to them for 5 years. When they moved in the Dad was working and the 2 children were still at school. They don't look after the house in so far as they don't ever mow the lawn and probably can't find their vacuum cleaner, but they are actually quite likeable people. The bulk of their £1325 rent has for the last couple of years been paid by housing benefit. They are my only hb tenants and I will never, ever, ever allow any again.
Something went wrong earlier this year. I think one of the children turned 18 and their hb was dramatically reduced, even though the "child" actually needs to be cared for - a point they had to prove over and over whilst the council stopped their payment. So housing benefit messed this up and left them (for "them" read "me" high and dry. Their arrears has built up with promises to pay not materialising for whatever reason and despite liking them I reached breaking point in my tolerance being owed over £4k.
Today I issued a section 8 notice siting grounds 8, 10, 11, 12 and 13. I really just want them to pay. They seemingly have quite a large insurance payout coming but I can't guarantee this, so I needed to set the ball rolling in case.
Well it had the desired result. It certainly prompted them into urgent action and somehow housing benefit are now arranging some back payment etc. The tenants want to stay and it seems they will try to raise the funds.
They took legal advice today from the council. I find what they were told absolutely disgusting. They were told not to pay anything and to make us go through the possession procedure and then once they are forced out the council will find them somewhere to live. Words fail me. A council that takes my taxes is telling someone to rip me off. I'll repeat that. A council is telling someone to rip me off. They actually told them not to pay me. Why? Because I have done something wrong? No. Because there is sweet f.a. I can do about it.
I have done everything right. I always try to do everything right. The fact that AUTHORITIES are telling people to rip good people off is disgusting and wrong. It should not be their direct advice. This needs sorting out. Why the hell do we landlords put up with crap like that? It makes me feel like never paying a penny in tax ever again. I can't tell you how much hatred I feel for the council and the government these days. What did my family do wrong? Why should we lose thousands of pounds? I really can't write what I would like to on here as I would be end up banned, but the system in this country is duff.
Fortunately the solicitor dealing with their insurance claim advised them not to do what the council said. He advised them to contact me and do everything possible to pay me whatever they could. He pointed out what the council hadn't. That the council will indeed house them in an overcrowded b&b or a high rise or whatever, not the nice terrace in a quiet cul de sac that they live in now.
I will never ever ever rent to anyone on benefits ever again. Good luck council - you may want to be accomplices in robbing people but it won't be me in future.
Hi Clair I feel sorry for you I have been in similar myself
I use home owner Guarantors every time I let a property and I have found it works well
A home owner Guarantor gives you a big leaver to pull
When I arrange a new Tenancy I also do a home visit to meet the guarantor.
Learn Change and Adapt ?????
Unfortunately your experience is far from unique.
It would appear that you and your tenants are victims of the system.
It seems from what you suggest that the changed circumstances of your tenants should not have resulted in benefits being stopped.
Unless the care situation had changed, the fact that another family member had a changed domestic status was irrelevant.
But the system meant everything had to be reviewed causing all benefit claims to be suspended.
This means that until such domestic circumstances can be reconfirmed then both you and your tenants are left high and dry!
It seems your tenant circumstances were such that at no time as far as they were concerned would they not qualify to receive their usual benefits which were adequate as far as you were concerned to meet their tenancy obligations.
It is just the way the system behaves when any domestic circumstances change.
It seems that gradually the claim is being recognised as still valid and you and your tenants should receive all benefit arrears.
In the meantime you are having to cover the cash flow shortage.
This is why as UC is being further rolled out that many LL are abandoning the HB tenant sector.
LL are simply not in a position to provide a free overdraft facility to the DWP and Council while they are sorting out amended benefit claims.
It should be standard practice that all benefit claims remain in place until it can be assessed that the claim might be reduced.
It will then be for the DWP and council to recover any overpayments by deduction from the tenant.
The current practice is simply unviable for LL and is resulting in LL abandoning the HB sector.
Councils are no friend of a LL.
As you have discovered.
Try and source future tenants that qualify for RGI.
If you can't then you could well become a repeat victim of the HB system..
This is a business risk you have no choice but to accept.
The system will not assist you at all.
Your only alternative is to abandon HB tenants.
Before I comment I should say, Clair is my wife.
It is how it is, but why do we accept the way things are? At what point did councils ( a part of the government) first start to actually advise the defaulting party in a contract to default further? It just isn't right, is it? Why not go to a mugger and rather than telling them to stop mugging someone tell them to try harder to see if the victim has anything else before the police eventually come in a few months time? The coucil didn't sit down with the tenants and help them make a payment plan, or ask them why they hadn't paid, or look at what they might be able to do, or contact us and see if they could work something out on the tenants' behalf. They simply told the tenants not to pay and to wait to be evicted. Is there any other example of anything that works like this?
I just feel that it all goes against the way I was brought up - ie taught right from wrong.
Doesn't anybody with any clout ever read these posts and think, yes, wait a minute, that doesn't seem fair? A family beaten up by life with no income for whatever reason can become a problem for the state and the country as a whole but why should an individual landlord be forced to subsidise them to the tune of thousands of pounds. Is this yet another tax (albeit unofficial) that landlords are expected to pay?
Help me out here. Why do I feel, yet again, that someone is having a laugh at my expense?
You express sentiments that are shared by many hundreds of thousands of fellow LL.
Unfortunately such sentiments are ignored by all those in power.
You are an evil, nasty private LL exploiting poor tenants.
If you suffer financial distress why should anyone care about it!?
You can afford it as you are a greedy LL like ALL LL are!
There is no other type of LL........apparently!!
Don't ever expect councils to assist you in your correct requirements.
There is no way the system will EVER change in your favour.
You have a simple business choice.
Carry on risking letting to HB tenants or don't.
If you can't let to other than HB tenants then your property investment isn't worth it.
Choosing an investment not reliant on HB tenants makes for a better investment.
You are not reliant then on the goodwill of councils
As you have seen this is non-existent.
It is pointless railing against the system.
We all agree with you and your wife.
The system will not be changing anytime soon.
The way many of us cope is to simply abandon HB tenants..
The system is illogical and stupid, but it is what it is!
There is simply no Govt or Council impetus to do things that might better assist private LL who are mostly despised by councils and even now by Govt.
But many LL are just taking a pragmatic stance, evicting HB tenants and replacing with higher rent paying private tenants.
You will never beat the system.
Far better to just leave it.
Of course this leaves a trail of very distressed domestic circumstances for HB tenants.
But that isn't your problem.
You ain't no charity!
It is unacceptable that councils can do this. No wonder you're so angry.
What about speaking to your MP? And would there be interest in setting up crowd funding to take some sort of legal action against a council over it assuming they must be breaking some law? If prosecution of one council is successful, then a precedent would be set for others.
I think this is something the RLA / NLA should be addressing.
"Change is a prerequisite to longterm survival".
The establishment is rigged so that the rich stay very rich, and the poor get poorer.
If the eviction laws were changed in case of rent arrears only believe me councils would soon change their tune.
It is the eviction process which facilitates councils to behave as they do..
They know it can take 10 months or more to evict.
That is 10 months they are saving themselves fortunes in HB.
If I was the council I would behave as they do..
The law permits this.
Change eviction to 14 days after 1st rent arrear with police assistance if required and councils will change their behaviour.
However there is simply no way that the eviction process will EVER be made easier for LL even in rent arrears circumstances.
The RLA/NLA will have no effect whatsoever on changing this dysfunctional eviction process.
I was thinking the exact same thing. Name and shame in public. I doubt the press would take it any further as they have an agenda on the opposite side of the fence, but I would certainly like to see the council in question come out and try to defend their advice
Vanessa, Nick, could PTTV arrange an interview with the council's housing department and ask them on camera to admit they are advising tenants this; to ask them why they are doing so; and whether they have taken advice on the legal aspects of advising tenants to breach the terms of their ASTs and force LLs into litigation?
Also, I wonder if we could all send FoI requests to our councils asking them whether they advise tenants to do this, and how many they've advised to do this over the last year, or so?
This is not the first time this 'council advice' has been mentioned on here, and it won't be the last.
The most stupid aspect to this is that the amount of tax payers money you are owed (c.£4k) will soon be eclipsed by the temporary housing/BnB bill which the tax payer will have to pay PLUS the tenant still won't have a place to live that will be as suitable!
You couldn't make up this level of stupidity that these people work to, yet some unknown council (or is it Govt.?) muppets have decided this is the way forward for dealing with the LHA/HB problems in the UK?
It's like they want to shaft:
1. The tenant AND
2. the LL AND
3. the taxpayer all in one easy move.
Someone must be benefitting from this shafting of the above parties, so who is it?
Hi Clair,I am sorry to hear of your plight. It happened to me as well. The councils tell people this for two reasons - first to string out the amount of time it takes to remove the tenant from the property and secondly so that the tenant can claim a council property because they did not intentionally make themselves homeless by agreeing to leave.However, this "advice" is out of date!In March 2016, the then Housing Minister Brandon Lewis wrote to all local councils in England in order to clarify homelessness guidance and the issue of councils advising tenants to stay put, stop paying the rent, and await bailiffs turning up.
Mr Lewis' letter stated that,“The statutory Homelessness Code of Guidance, which local authorities are required by law to have regard to, is clear on this matter.
“It contains guidance on how authorities should treat homelessness applications in circumstances where a tenant has received a valid S21 notice.
“It says that housing authorities should not, in every case, insist upon a court order for possession and that no local authority should adopt a blanket policy in this respect.
“Unless a local authority has very good reason to depart from the statutory guidance, then they should not be placing households in this position.”I would suggest you direct your local council to this letter.Further information here
Vanessa Warwick Landlord and Co-Founder of PropertyTribes.com **If you have got value from Property Tribes, find out how you can support it in remaining a free to use community resource**